The Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Semikha Program, located at YU's Wilf Campus in New York City, offers a four-year program of study leading to Semikha Yoreh Yoreh. The first three years involve full-time study, and the fourth year combines daily learning with intensive fieldwork.Throughout the program, students are involved in formal coursework in pastoral psychology, counseling, homiletics and current issues facing the Jewish community.
Morning seder, shiur and most classes take place Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., and on Friday mornings. In addition, students may spend a year studying at YU's Joseph and Caroline S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem.
Over the course of semikha, students gain proficiency in the laws of kashrut, niddah, aveilut, eruvin, bishul b'Shabbat, gerut and milah, ishut and other contemporary halachic topics, while continuing to hone their talmudic and professional skills.
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The Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Semikha Program leads to semikha Yoreh Yoreh. Upon completing all the requirements, students are issued a ''Semikha Klaf''—the traditional ordination certificate handwritten on parchment by a sofer.
Semikha Yadin Yadin, an advanced ordination that qualifies rabbis as poskim in Even HaEzer and Choshen Mishpat, is offered through an intensive postgraduate study program following traditional ordination.
Every four years, RIETS hosts a Chag HaSemikhah to celebrate the completion of a new cycle of musmachim.
Professional Experience During the Semikha Program
The professional training curriculum is divided into the following tracks of study, each with its own rabbinic adviser:
- Community outreach and Campus leadership
- Hospital chaplaincy
- Jewish communal services
All students take five core courses in their first two years of semikha. These include a survey of professional opportunities designed to inspire students to careers in Avodat Hakodesh; a survey of the American Jewish community; two semesters of pastoral psychology; a public speaking course; and a leadership course.
Students in the pulpit and outreach tracks continue their studies at RIETS while students in the other tracks continue their professional training with master's degrees or additional courses outside of RIETS.
To complete the program, students must intern for three semesters of hands-on practical experience in their professional field of interest. The fourth year is a full-year mentored internship program in a synagogue, school, outreach, or administrative or chaplaincy setting, during which students continue the rigorous Torah studies that remain the rabbi's principle and classic stock-in-trade.
Starting Semikha in the Last Year of Undergraduate School
Yeshiva College seniors within 12 credits of college graduation may start semikha in their senior year with permission from the dean of RIETS.
Students with backgrounds in Talmudic study not sufficient for acceptance into the regular semikha program can enhance their skills by joining the pre-semikha program. Participants attend regular Talmud shiurim on their level as well as classes in Machshevet Yisrael.
Ludwig Jesselson Kollel Chaverim
Students with backgrounds in Talmud who want to continue their Torah learning prior to or during graduate or professional school may join the Ludwig Jesselson Kollel Chaverim for a one-year program of intensive Talmud study as well as studies related to their professional area of interest. Those who continue in a directed self-study program for an additional three years and complete an approved research project are eligible for the Chaver degree.
Sephardic students may take courses in Sephardic Halacha, Hazzanut and Safrut, and may enroll in shiurim with our Sephardic roshei yeshiva.
The Maybaum Sephardic Fellowship program assists students of Sephardic heritage who plan rabbinic careers in Sephardic communal institutions.